GLACIER PEAK BEATS 4A POWER FEDERAL WAY
Like many teams across the area this season, Glacier Peak has been dealing with the effects of numerous canceled games stemming from COVID-19 protocols.
So after both of their originally scheduled contests were canceled last week, Grizzlies coach Brian Hunter was just happy to find replacement opponents on short notice.
“It was really big that we got to play,” Hunter said. “Just getting on the court was big.”
In the process, Glacier Peak picked up a signature victory over a perennial Class 4A state power.
The Grizzlies outlasted Federal Way for a 74-69 non-league win last Thursday night, beating a high-caliber program that’s made six consecutive 4A state quarterfinal appearances — including back-to-back state titles in 2015 and 2016.
After last spring’s abbreviated season and the choppiness of this winter, Hunter said the game felt like his program’s first high-level contest since its 4A state semifinal run in March of 2020.
“It was the first feel of a real game we’ve had since the Saturday of the state tournament two years ago,” Hunter said. “So that was cool to be able to be in an atmosphere and a game that felt similar to what we’re more accustomed to playing in.”
Freshman guard Jo Lee led Glacier Peak (5-1) with 22 points and five 3-pointers, including 14 points and four 3s in a red-hot fourth-quarter shooting display.
“Being a freshman, that’s definitely different,” Hunter said of Lee’s performance. “That’s not normal. In our 14 years at Glacier Peak, we’ve never had a freshman have the role that he has with us.”
Senior guard Bobby Siebers had another big game with 19 points. Siebers, the lone remaining key contributor from the 2019-20 state semifinal team, is averaging 25.8 points per contest.
“He’s obviously a skilled, accomplished player,” Hunter said. “And so we expected him to take on that role this year. But he still has to go do it. And I think he’s done that.”
Senior forward Torey Watkins also has made a big impact, averaging 13.0 points and double-digit rebounds per game.
“He’s just played really good team, selfless basketball for us and has just been really important,” Hunter said.
Hunter said he would’ve liked to have more non-league games before heading into Wesco 4A play this week. But the victory over Federal Way was undoubtedly an important step as his team continues to grow and improve.
“It was nice to see the kids play the way they did, because I just think it was more similar to how we would normally play,” Hunter said. “It just has taken a while to get there, because we haven’t had the time on the court together.”
JACKSON CONTINUES STRONG START
Jackson capped an impressive non-league slate by racing past previously unbeaten Woodinville in a 76-57 rout last Wednesday night.
It was another quality win for the Timberwolves (9-1), who earned a pair of resume-boosting victories last month over defending 2A state champion North Kitsap and another top 2A team in Port Angeles. Jackson’s lone loss came on a buzzer-beating 3-pointer to Curtis, which is expeceted to be among the top 4A teams in the state.
The Timberwolves love to push the tempo and are averaging 76.2 points per game in their fast-paced attack. They’re led by 6-foot-6 junior Sylas Williams, a double-double machine who’s averaging nearly 24 points and 14 rebounds per game.
But it’s been far from a one-man show. Senior guard Drilon Veliu averages nearly 16 points per game. Senior forward Bradley Tharp adds 11 points and six rebounds per contest. And senior wing Henry Armstrong chips in nine points and three assists per game.
“We’ve had lots of guys in double figures,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “I think unselfishness and consistency really have been the main two things that have led to a successful non-league season. … We’ve been pretty consistent across the board collectively and individually.”
WESCO 4A LOOKS AS COMPETITIVE AS EVER
There are just five teams in Wesco 4A this season. But as the league begins conference play this week, Wesco 4A looks as tough and balanced as it’s been in a long time.
Glacier Peak, which has claimed three of the past four Wesco 4A titles, is off to a 5-1 start and owns the aforementioned signature win over Federal Way. Jackson is 9-1, with several notable victories. Mariner is 6-5, but has played a tough non-league slate and has several impact players back from last spring’s 10-0 team. And both Kamiak and Lake Stevens appear capable of knocking off any other team in the league on any given night.
“I think the previous four seasons, the top few teams (in Wesco 4A) have somewhat distanced themselves early and it was somewhat obvious who was gonna be at the top of the standings,” Glacier Peak coach Brian Hunter said. “Whereas this year, I do not feel that way. It’s a difficult league. All the teams are talented. … I think you could make a case for a number of teams being the league favorite at this point right now.”
With just five teams in the league, each Wesco 4A team has just eight scheduled conference games this season.
“Our season is kind of weird with so few league games,” Jackson coach Steve Johnson said. “Now you wipe the slate clean in some respects and you kind of have a real quick eight-game season.”
STANWOOD KNOCKS OFF ARLINGTON IN RIVALRY CLASH
Arlington was in the Wesco 3A/2A driver’s seat after a pair of key victories last month over fellow league-title contenders Mountlake Terrace and Shorecrest. But that’s no longer the case after a loss to its archrival.
Stanwood knocked the Eagles from their perch atop the league standings, pulling away for a 62-56 rivalry victory over Arlington last Friday night. Junior point guard Owen Thayer led the Spartans with 19 points and was one of four Stanwood scorers in double figures.
With the Eagles’ loss, all 16 teams in Wesco 3A/2A now have at least one defeat in league play. The conference title race is shaping up to be wide-open affair, with Arlington (5-2, 3-1 Wesco 3A/2A), Shorecrest (8-1, 4-1), Stanwood (5-3, 4-1) and Mountlake Terrace (4-1, 2-1) looking like the leading contenders at this point.